Your website is designed perfectly! It’s got appealing colors, intuitive content layout, and quality content. But more than likely, your website is built for a single culture—your own. Will that same content layout be intuitive to someone from a different country, or is website localization necessary?
Localizing a website is an important process for a company with global products and services. If a potential client from China visits your website and finds that it’s built only for an American or German culture, they might become frustrated with its inaccessibility.
The first and most obvious step is to have a translate feature on your website, allowing the user to choose their preferred language. While fully translated content is important, it takes more than that for website to be accessible to a global audience. Many companies assume translation is enough and leave their website localization efforts to the bare minimum.
After translation, there are many other steps to having an effective localized website. Here are three tips on how to make sure your website is as accessible as possible.
1. Rethink Your Color Scheme for Website Localization
Every culture has different thoughts on color. While one culture might think that yellow is a fearful, cowardly color, another could consider it symbolic of bravery and courage.
By researching a target culture’s color symbolism, a company can make appropriate changes to their website color scheme. Color is one of the first features to be noticed when visiting a website, often subconsciously, so it’s important to choose your palette wisely.
2. Change Your Content Layout
In a Western culture, people typically view websites in an “F” pattern, meaning that a website should have its content formatted in an “F” shape to get the best readability, as most readers will predictively follow that pattern.
The “F” pattern isn’t a constant across all cultures, though. The pattern changes according to culture, and factors like bidirectional languages can have a massive effect on where readers start on a webpage.
Disparate cultures also have preferences on other design layout factors. For instance, Americans tend to prefer to have less options to click in the menu page, since too many options can be overwhelming and confusing.
As a result, dropdown menus have become an intuitive part of American websites, but other cultures aren’t overwhelmed by numerous links, and in those cases, dropdown menus become unnecessary. Understanding a culture’s communication preferences can help when making these design decisions.
3. Space Out Your Content
It should come as no surprise that when translating content from English to another language, the translation will create words and sentences of different length than the English version. This becomes crucial to consider when creating a website that offers a translation feature.
What might look nicely spaced out on the English website could become a mess when translated into German, with words and sentences breaking the design formats due to length.
On the flip side, translating into Japanese could result in sentences that are much shorter than in English, making website content look underwhelming in contrast to the design layout.
Special attention should also be paid to having the correct characters for a language. Nothing is worse than looking at a translated website and realizing that there are characters that aren’t being processed in the code, and are instead just empty character boxes.
When expanding a company’s global presence in the digital age, website localization is an important step that far too few companies effectively implement. By planning the layouts for color, design, and content, a company can reap the benefits of a website that caters to other cultures, instead of forcing site visitors to use a non-intuitive website layout.